Amazing Race fans may remember David & Lori, two self-proclaimed nerds who listed "good at taking tests" among their qualifications. About mid-way through that season there was a challenge in Greece where each team had to assemble a sculpture like a giant 3-D puzzle, but what the racers didn't know was that there was two extra pieces in each pile. I remember looking at Oodgie and saying, "Uh oh...this is going to kill the nerds!"
Sure enough, as the frat boys, hippies, and abusive couples all completed their statues and shrugged off the extra pieces, the nerds struggled and lamented late into the night, because there cannot be extra pieces. All variables in an equation have a purpose, all chips in a computer serve a function, and all pieces in a puzzle by definition must have a place. That is the nerd world-view. Sadly, that night they were Philiminated.
It's April 2007, and history repeats itself. Cheeky's obsession with sticker-books has taken on dimensions that some would consider unhealthy (Dateline filmed her on "To Catch a Toddler" when Chris Hansen pretended to be a sticker-book online). All day and all night she matches stickers to their logical place in the book, uncannily identifying shapes and colors and awkwardly placing the stickers sorta-kinda over the spot they belong.
I like to help Cheeky with this because
I like playing with stickers I value the father-daughter time together. It's my job to find the right page in the book to put the sticker on. The other night she pulled off a sticker of a dog playing with a cat, so I quickly memorized the shape and flipped rapidly through the book looking for the page it belonged on.
Then I flipped through the book again.
Then a couple more times.
Cheeky sat patiently, a sticker stuck to her index finger.
I page through again.
"Hold on, Sweety...it's here somewhere..."
Now Cheeky is a pretty mellow child, but she had a sticker on her finger and dammit she was going to put it in her book. The fact that her dad wouldn't slow down on a page was annoying.
I page through again. The spot it belong isn't there.
That's OK with Cheeky, mind you. She's willing to find something close, e.g. a dog playing with a ball, or a dog playing with another dog, or our coffee table, or my shirt. But it had to belong somewhere. It came out of the book, so there must be someplace in the book that it was supposed to go.
I pause for a second, muttering to myself like I'm pushing a frocery cart full of empty cans across Clark Street. "Ragem fraggem goddamsticker ragem fraggem wherethehellisit ragem fraggem."
Cheeky puts the sticker in the middle of the page I'm open to. Not a match.
"Hold on, kiddo...Daddy will find it..."
But she'd moved on. She was back on the sticker page looking for another sticker.
So I go back to helping her find where the new sticker goes. But I linger on every page, looking for that stupid dog playing with a cat.
Soon it's dinner time, and Cheeky's off to eat ketchup.
I'm still on the couch.
Looking for the damn dog and cat.
I can barely focus on how angry I am that a children's book company would include stickers in their sticker-matching book that don't have a match--I assume just to torture children--because I am completely focused on how I can't find the damn thing.
Because it has to be in there.
It's day three. The sticker is hanging from our counter. I shall look again tonight.
It has to be in there.
Curse you, Phil...curse you....